How to hire your first Virtual Assistant.

One of the quickest ways to stunt the growth of your business is to do everything yourself.

You want to spend the majority of your time on the $100/hr and $1000/hr activities. If you spend 90% of your day on the $10/hr activities, not only are you placing a very low cap on your income – but you’re probably not spending your time doing the work that you truly enjoy.

Regardless of what type of business you’re in, the parts you enjoy the most are also the elements that provide the greatest ROI – the creative, strategic, and interactive aspects of your work.

Meanwhile, the mundane tasks of responding to customer requests, growing your social media following, and cold calling potential clients have two drawbacks:

1. They can be boring and emotionally draining.

2. When you do the math on these activities, your hourly rate quickly approaches minimum wage.

Of course, you don’t have much capital as an entrepreneur – and it’s important to be smart with your money. But sometimes being financially savvy actually means that you should spend more money.

Your focus shouldn’t be to minimize costs, but rather to maximize ROI.

The opportunity cost for every hour spent on $10/hr tasks is the $990 that you could have earned if that time was spent on the $1000/hr activities.

How outsourcing can exponentially increase your productivity

Entrepreneur’s all over the world have started to recognize the value of hiring others to maximize their productivity. While most successful entrepreneurs aren’t interested in living the 4-Hour Workweek, they understand that implementing practices to increase your productivity will allow you to 10x your daily output.

If you use outsourcing intelligently, it maximizes your productivity in two very obvious ways. First, it allows you to hand off some of the less complex, yet time-consuming, elements of your business – at a fraction of the cost to hire someone in the US to achieve these activities. Second, it saves you money that you can invest into highly-skilled labor – either in the US or abroad.

Think about it, if you had to pay three people each $30,000 a year to manage your office work, adding a $70,000 skilled professional would make your total payroll $160,000. Meanwhile, if you hire three offshore office managers for $6,000 a year, adding a skilled employee will only require a total payroll cost of $88,000 a year – half of the initial cost!

How to know when you’re ready to hire a virtual assistant

If you’re running around like a chicken with its head cut off, and have no idea what’s going on in your business, hiring a virtual assistant probably isn’t a good idea.

Although a virtual assistant can be incredibly helpful, if you have no idea of what needs to be done, it will be challenging to find someone else capable of running the business for you.

1. You have clearly defined tasks- While you want to hire a virtual assistant capable of growing and learning, you need to have very clear measurable activities when starting with a new VA. Don’t tell your VA to “increase blog traffic”. Instead, tell him to leave comments on 10 blogs a day (initially from a list you provide him with), schedule 10 tweets a day to promote your content, and reach out to several blogs to request guest posting opportunities. Meanwhile, if you’re hiring someone for outbound marketing, don’t just tell them to find clients to call. First, develop a script for them to follow. Then, have them do research and find 500 potential leads. Finally, have a mock conversion to confirm that they know what they’re talking about, and let them start calling. In order for this to really work out, you must be able to complete the process from A to Z. Even if you’re not familiar with SEO, Web Dev or anything of the sort. All it takes is a little bit of research on your part to be able to give a complete task where they absorb the knowledge necessary to complete the work. Give them the layout and all you need to do is find somebody to follow it to the tee.

2. You can’t expect an article writer you pay $500/month in the Philippines to develop the same level of quality that you will find with a $500/per article freelance writer in the US. Understanding the qualitative difference between the outsourced and non-outsourced version of the work involved must be a consideration before you decide what you can and cannot outsource. The same goes for any other activity. Understand that your VA will likely come across some challenges – especially if you expect the same quality that you do yourself. By maintaining realistic expectations, and understanding that you may not be able to outsource everything, you’ll keep yourself from being overly disappointed or stressed out later on.

3. You understand the overarching strategy of what needs to get done – Just because a virtual assistant says that they have three years of SEO experience doesn’t mean you can hire him to manage your entire search optimization process. His experience in SEO may have been submitting articles to directories or adding spammy comments to blog posts. Odds are he will have no idea how to develop an exhaustive SEO strategy for your website. Therefore, it’s essential for you to know the core elements of the tasks you are outsourcing. You don’t need to be an exceptional graphic designer – but if you’re hiring a VA to build your website, you better be able to share very specific examples of elements you like from different websites. Just don’t become this. If you don’t have the knowledge or time to invest in the high-level strategy, then hiring a consultant is a better decision than a virtual assistant. However, for tasks that you have been doing on a regular basis, and simply want to pass off to someone else, a VA is a perfect choice.

4. You have time to train the VA- Too many people get turned off by outsourcing because they hire a virtual assistant who does the project completely wrong. While this may sometimes be due to the caliber of the contractor, more often than not it is due to poor training, management and a lack of detail on the part of the entrepreneur. Unless you have time to speak with your VA, create supporting documents and videos, and walk through drafts, don’t waste your time. As with any new employee, it takes time to learn how to do something the “right” way. Considering using a SOP or Checklist software to help systemize your processes prior to or during training.

If hiring a virtual assistant still sounds like the right decision after reviewing the four steps above, it’s time to begin the hunt!

How to find and hire the right virtual assistant.

Once you know it’s time to find an assistant, the real fun begins. By following these steps you’ll minimize your headaches and maximize the quality of the first assistant you hire.

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